Book Review: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

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Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

review

I have to say with all of the other raving reviews, I was expecting to really love this one. I mean it SOUNDS like a book I would walk away from with a 4 or 5 star rating but it just fell short for me. It was an enjoyable read but didn’t blow me away. This is kind of a “meh” book for me, I just don’t have a lot to say about it.


(I’m going to do this review a bit differently, I recently ran a poll on my Twitter asking if you guys prefer my normal method of reviewing or if you’d like a list. It was close but the list style ended up winning so I want to give it a try! Please, please let me know what you think and if you’d like more reviews in this style!)


What I Loved:

  • This is a standalone and not part of a trilogy or series, which is a nice change since this is YA Fantasy.
  • The premise is very unique and creative, I can honestly say I’ve never read anything else like it!
  • No tropes! There aren’t any of your typical YA tropes present throughout this book which was very refreshing. No insta-love, no love triangles, and no special snowflake main characters!
  • The romance never overtook the plot and it was slow burn, I really loved the two characters together as well.
  • Diverse characters! There are POC, characters with disabilities including the main character, and LGTB characters. I also THINK that Luca, the love interest, might be aromantic or asexual. It’s never fully addressed but he doesn’t like showing physical affection throughout the story. (If you’ve read anything about this, let me know if I need to be corrected!)
  • Foody’s writing was excellent and one of the big reasons I kept on reading, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her work!
  • I liked the magic bits, Sorina’s powers were really neat as were the powers of the other jynx-workers. (would have loved more development though)
  • Circus/Carnival setting, because who doesn’t love that?
  • Sorina was a good main character, I like that she had her faults but overall would do whatever it takes to protect her family. Foody also avoided tropes with Sorina’s character and that was fantastic.

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Definitely not enough world building, I felt very lost especially when all of the politics were brought in. It’s hard to care about politics when I have no clue about the countries/kingdoms/people involved. I know it’s a standalone but if you’re going to make politics a big part of your plot you need to build up your world more.
  • The pacing was pretty slow and the plot overall was a slow burn, and I honestly almost DNF’d this so many times because of how slow it was.
  • I felt the plot itself was really lacking as well, I just didn’t care about it. I mean you have an entire city that’s one giant carnival and all we explore or some murders and that’s it? Really? We couldn’t have expanded the plot into any other aspect of the giant carnival full of secrets and magic?
  • Speaking of the “murder mystery plot”: it was predictable. There were a few aspects that I didn’t see coming right away but overall I wasn’t shocked or surprised very much.
  • The characters were all sort of “meh”, they were all pretty one dimensional and once again I didn’t care much about any of them. They were unique though, I will give them that!
  • One of my BIGGEST issues with this book was that Sorina, the main character, has NO EYES but yet she’s still described throughout the book as “narrowing her eyes”, or “eyeing” someone, or even crying! How?! How the heck can she narrow her eyes and cry if she has no eyes?! I wish there would have been more thought put into this aspect of the story, if the character has no eyes then please spend some more time explaining why and how and be mindful of the expressions you’re using to describe the character.
  • Overall I felt everything from the plot, to the plot twists, characters, and world building could have used WAAAY more development.

 I can definitely see how others enjoyed this book a lot more than I did, but ultimately I’m left feeling slightly disappointed. Everything needed a lot more development for me and the pacing to be faster. It was an interesting concept with interesting characters though, credit for creativity.

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Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble

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The Bookish Love Tag

Top Ten Tuesday(22)

So I couldn’t seem to find any romance related book tags for Valentine’s Day besides the “Valentine’s Day Book Tag” (which I’ve done already), but I found this on Hardback Hoarder’s channel! The original creator is Novel Noise.

***** SPOILER ALERT! The following answers contain romantic relationship spoilers for the following books: The Winner’s Curse, The Diabolic, And I Darken, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, My Lady Jane, and the Harry Potter series!******

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1.) Three Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends

  • Victor Vale from “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab
  • Sevro au Barca from the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown
  • Ragnar Volarus from the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

Don’t judge me! Apparently I like older men and short, odd ones!


2.) Three OTPs

  • Aragorn & Arwen from “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Nemesis & Tyrus from “The Diabolic” by S.J. Kincaid
  • Lada & Mehmed from “And I Darken”

I will go down with these ships!


3.) Favorite First Kiss

Probably Kestrel and Arin in “The Winner’s Curse”, just because it’s a forbidden romance and I had to wait the entire book for it to happen!


4.) What couple had the greatest sexual tension?

Lada and Mehmed in “And I Darken” for sure! This one about drove me nuts because they both loved each other but kept it secret thinking their love was unrequited! So when they finally got together it was a giant sigh of relief from me.


On Valentine’s Day, which couple would…..

5.)….Go to a fancy restaurant?

Maybe Kestrel and Arin from “The Winner’s Curse” because they’re more mild than some of the other couples I adore.

6.)…. Have a quiet picnic/walk on the beach?

Jane and Gifford from “My Lady Jane”, they’re adorable.

7.) …. Stay at home and watch Netflix?

Nemesis and Tyrus from “The Diabolic” because they never get enough alone time!

8.)…. Go dancing?

Monte and Percy from “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” because they love to party, well mostly Monte.


9.) What couple do you want to get together?

Well everyone in the books I read end up together for the most part but one of the couples I’d like to stay together would be Lada and Mehmed from “And I Darken”.


10.) What couple do you HATE that everyone else LOVES?

Ginny x Harry, because at least Hermione ending up with Ron made more sense! It’s like JK was thinking “Hm, who should end up with Harry?” *tosses dart* “Oh, Ginny!”. That’s how I feel, I think Ginny just came out of nowhere to be Harry’s love interest, yes, he already knew her but not in a romantic way! I will forever ship Harry x Hermione.

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If you’d like to do this tag, give it a go! Just be sure to tag me and the original creator!

And Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Bookish Romances

Top Ten Tuesday(9)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

It has now been moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

I’ve done a very similar post not that long ago so a lot of these are “recycled” but I’m just very picky about my book romances, only a few truly impress me! Also a lot of these fall under the “forbidden romance” trope, I’ll just tell you now! I’m a sucker for forbidden romance, it’s like my brain thinks “Oh….they can’t be together? They shouldn’t be together?…….THEY MUST BE TOGETHER NOW!”.

These are in no particular order and I will link reviews if I have them.

**** SPOILER FREE! I won’t be naming characters just the books so you can read my post freely!****

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10.) The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

I originally thought (judging from the cover especially) that this book would be loaded with the usualy YA romance tropes: insta-love and love triangles. I was pleasantly surprised though as there were none of those! The romance is actually very slow-burn and also forbidden, my favorite.

You can read my full review here.


9.) The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Once again we have a forbidden, slow-burn romance that had me rooting for this couple! I love when I get to see two characters developed separately and then coming together by the end, it’s so satisfying. On a side note: the women in this book are so badass.

You can read my full review here.


8.) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This one has a dash of insta-love but it’s explained why later on in the story so it gets a pass from me! Otherwise it’s forbidden romance as well and I loved how well developed and complex the relationship is throughout the book.

You can read my full review here.


7.) And I Darken by Kiersten White

This one is a bit odd because I was NOT expecting romance in this book at all but I got it and I loved it! There is a love triangle but one…portion of it is unrequited so I guess it’s not technically a love triangle then, is it? I digress. This was just one of those relationships that had so much….angst. They secretly loved each other but felt it was unrequited so WAITED forever to say anything, it drove me crazy in the best possible way!

You can read my full review here.


6.) My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Here we have another trope-free and slow-burn romance, well I guess I don’t know if the whole “get married and THEN get to know each other and fall in love” thing is a trope. If it is let me know what you sum it up as, haha! I loved how adorable the couple in this book was, sooooooo freaking cute!

You can read my full review here.


5.) The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Another book you would never expect there to really be a romance in but there it is and it’s awesome! I love the couple in this book, I LOVE THEM! They’re so perfect for each other and the chemistry is just there! It’s pretty slow burn and definitely forbidden too!

You can read my full review here.


4.) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Anyone who has read this book will agree with me, I think! This is slow burn and forbidden love and it will have you pining along with the characters because you just want them to be together dammit!


3.) The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

This is a historical fiction with an M/M romance and both character’s think their love is unrequited! They’re both so adorable and this book is so much fun and is hilarious!

You can read my full review here.


2.) Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

This book is almost 100% about the romance and I was really surprised that I loved it so much! There’s TONS of diversity with POC characters, gay characters, and characters with mental illnesses too! The relationships are all just so positive and adorable, they gave me those fuzzy warm feelings!

You can read my full review here.


1.) An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Normally I feel like I wouldn’t have loved this romance since it was a little insta-lovey but I loved both characters so much on their own and the love is forbidden of course so I was sold! Plus who wouldn’t love a Fae Prince?

You can read my full review here.

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Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Are any of these romances your favorite as well?

What are some of your favorite bookish romances?

Let me know in the comments!

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Non-Romance Book Recommendations for Valentine’s Day

Top Ten Tuesday(21)

Ya know, because some of us just don’t see what’s so great about Valentine’s Day! I’m sure there will be TONS of posts out there about what romance books to read or favorite romances but since I’m not big on romance myself, I decided to do a post of NON-ROMANCE books! Or just books that romance isn’t the focus in.

These aren’t in any particular order and I will link up my reviews if I have them!

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

One of the major reasons I liked this book was because there weren’t any of the typical YA romance tropes present: no love triangles or insta-love! We got a nice friendship between the two main characters and it could possibly develop into a romance but it didn’t in the first book here. So refreshing!

You can read my full review here.


Slasher Girls & Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

Sometimes I find that horror books, as with horror movies, are filled with cliched romances but this little anthology isn’t the case! There are stories for just about every horror lover in here with monsters, serial killers, curses, and Death itself. And none involve romance with the exception of Danielle Page’s story but I recommend steering clear of that mess.

You can read my full review here.


The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

If you want to be emotionally wrecked by a non-romance book on Valentine’s Day, this is the book for you. This is more sci-fi mixed with coming of age, there are two adorable kids and a talking dog.

You can read my full review here.


Night Film by Marisha Pessl

This book is hard to explain because it’s sort of horror mixed with mystery/thriller, but it’s absolutely 100% addicting. It’s 600 some pages long and it felt shorter than that because the story was so intriguing. Romance isn’t the focus at all in this book just pure suspense! It’s a great “rainy day read” but in this case it’s a great book to stay at home and read this Valentine’s Day!


A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole

There is a tiny bit of romance in this book but it’s so small it’s like it isn’t even there! Plus you’ll be too swept up in the plot and gorgeous world building of this YA sci-fi to notice.

You can read my full review here.


Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Hmm how about instead of romance you read something with morally gray characters who also happen to have awesome super powers? Yes, I think that’s a great idea too.

You can read my full review here.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

There is a bit of romance in this book but once again it isn’t the main focus whatsoever, instead the focus is more on the love between Starr and her family. The family dynamic in this book is so, so fantastic and of course the story is important for more than this reason as well as it explores police brutality and the Black Lives Matter Movement. I can find a reason to recommend this book ALL the time, trust me, so why not Valentine’s Day?

You can read my full review here.


Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The overall motivation of the main character involves a romance but this is not a romance book at all, way too twisted and dark. If you want crazy plot twists in your life, you will find them here!

You can read my full review here.


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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

In this short novella there is discussion of romantic relationships but they aren’t the focus, instead the focus is on the fantastic world building. These characters have all been to different worlds and must cope with returning to our world, it’s similar to Alice going down the rabbit hole and the Pevensie children going into Narnia.

You can read my full review here.


Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

This is a very dark, twisted retelling of Peter Pan told from the POV of James Hook and is the origin story of his rivalry with Pan. It’s a very unique and creative retelling, I highly recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of Peter Pan and of course there’s no romance!

You can read my full review here.


Dreamfall by Amy Plum

This is another book whose genre is hard to pinpoint, it’s about a group of children/teenagers who suffer from insomnia going into an experiment that is supposed to help them. Instead they are all thrown into a shared dreamscape in which they have to battle through their nightmares. It’s nice that there was no romance to distract from the thrills!

You can read my full review here.


Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

This is what “Throne of Glass” should have been like: badass assassins and a badass competition with NO insta-love or love triangles!! You’ll find a generfluid thief/assassin fighting in a competition to become one of the queen’s assassins, nothing but romance-free action and adventure here!

You can read my full review here.


The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

This book isn’t for the faint hearted, it is very gory and graphically violent as the plot focuses on a girl seeking revenge for her rape. The rape IS depicted off page but it’s still hard to read through. However, it’s a fantastic story involving a Romany main character who uses magic/witchcraft to collect special “ingredients” from the boys who assaulted her in order to save a friend. Obviously there isn’t any romance.

You can read my full review here.


The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

This is a pretty dark and twisted YA mystery/thriller, I did NOT see those twists coming at all! I like that there was no romance to take away from the plot and overall suspense, it means there’s more time to tell a great story.

You can read my full review here.


Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

There is a tiny bit of side romance that develops later but if you read the book you’ll know why I’m saying it’s not really romantic. It’s nice when there’s a fantasy that doesn’t focus on a romantic relationship and instead focuses on world building, plot twists, and characters like “Stormdancer” does.

You can read my full review.


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Sure there’s a romance we would all LIKE to develop in this book but ultimately there isn’t any romance. Schwab, if you couldn’t already tell, is kind of the Queen of writing fantastic books that don’t use romance as a focal point. Instead we get great characters, great world building, and a great plot to focus on instead!

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Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

What do you think of these recommendations?

What are some of your favorite non-romance books?

Would you rather read romance or non-romance on Valentine’s Day?

Let me know in the comments!

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ARC Review: The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg

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New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.

Like her mother’s, Avery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power—or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on “patients”…and no one knows why.

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**** Huge thank you to HarperTeen for approving me for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! ****

I have to say I’m a little confused about my feelings for this book, because it started out excellent and then for some reason dragged at the end and the story got really jumbled up. I think it had a lot of potential but that ending just made everything fall really flat for me.


(I’m going to do this review a bit differently, I recently ran a poll on my Twitter asking if you guys prefer my normal method of reviewing or if you’d like a list. It was close but the list style ended up winning so I want to give it a try! Please, please let me know what you think and if you’d like more reviews in this style!)


What I Liked:

  • Avery Kohl, our main character, is a fantastic protagonist. She’s very loyal, kind, and doesn’t like to stick to the 1880’s views on women and race. Avery is a welder and honestly it’s pretty badass because the work is hard, she’s looked down on for being female and in this position but toughs it out, and she does it all to help provide for herself and her father. She also watches over the other boys in her crew and is very protective of them, it’s adorable!
  • The setting of this book is extremely unique as it’s set during the Second Industrial Revolution in 1880’s New York. I don’t know about you guys but that’s not exactly a setting I see very often especially in YA! From what little I know about this time period I still thought Schaumberg did an excellent job with this setting.
  • I also really enjoyed the paranormal/psychic bits of the story, the powers that Avery has are interesting and some other characters possessed powers as well. However, I felt like the powers could have been explored a lot more and it would have made things a lot more interesting.
  • The side characters were really great and had their own unique personalities, sometimes they just don’t get enough development but these characters had it! There were a few characters that really endeared themselves to me.
  • Avery also has a pet falcon named Seraphine, it’s awesome.
  • The pacing at the beginning of the book is very fast and I was pulled in right from the start, the story was intriguing and I wanted to know what was going on with Avery’s powers!
  • There is some romance present in this book and I love that it didn’t take over the plot. I did like the love interests overall as well and could easily see why Avery liked them both. It was nice that no one ever had a big spat over who was going to end up with who though.
  • Diversity! We have African-American characters, Romany characters, and an Italian character. Of course there were others as well and I liked that we were shown what a “melting pot” New York City is.
  • I also really liked that the racism shown towards characters is challenged especially considering the time period the book is set in. Avery and her father both actively disregard the public’s views of other races and are close friends with different people of color.
  • The cover is gorgeous!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Half way through the story the pacing slows down significantly and really starts to drag. I ended up skimming a bit right at the ending because I just wanted it to be over.
  • The overall plot made sense from the start but as with the pacing, it just got really messy and confusing towards the end. I can’t even really tell you what the heck was happening by the end! The beginning was strong but the end not so much.
  • The main antagonist was incredibly cheesy, we are talking classic mustache twirling villain. I had a hard time taking him seriously at all let alone as a threat. And his “grand scheme” was laughably terrible.
  • There’s a love triangle and while I liked both love interests, what was the point? Especially the second love interest! He came out of nowhere I felt like!
  • As I already kind of mentioned, I wish everyone’s “powers” were explained and explored a lot more. For such an important part of the story I felt it was barely present.

Normally I’d say if the “liked” bits outweigh the “not liked” bits then I enjoyed the book but here it’s just not the case. I enjoyed myself at the beginning of the book but by the end I was so bored and confused that I just can’t give this book a better rating. It was too much of a mess by the end.

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Links: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

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Down The TBR Hole #16

Top Ten Tuesday(92)

This was “created” by Lost in a Story!

The Rules:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Check out my other editions of “Down The TBR Hole” here.

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Current TBR: 770


Book #150

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Date Added: August 13th, 2015

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I actually thought about getting rid of this one but I heard it’s a “Hades & Persephone” retelling and I NEED all of them that I can get so I’ll give this one ago. I actually got a signed copy off of Book Outlet so that’s neat!

The Judgement: Keep


Book #152

The Child Thief by Brom

Date Added: August 13th, 2015

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Definitely keeping because I need all the Peter Pan retellings and especially if they’re dark and twisted versions!

The Judgement: Keep


Book #153

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Date Added: August 13th, 2015

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The premise still sounds interesting if not a little confusing, but it’s got fallen angels I believe. However, I just don’t have any interest in trying to read it anymore.

The Judgement: Go


Book #154

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Date Added: August 27th, 2015

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I’m a little on the fence with this one but I’ll keep it for now because it seems like a good Halloween read!

The Judgement: Keep


Book #155

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Date Added: August 31st, 2015

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I already own a copy and I do like the sound of a book called “The Creeping”, I believe it’s a mystery thriller but I’m also hoping (as the title implies) that it is a little creepy as well!

The Judgement: Keep


Book #156

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Date Added: September 3rd, 2015

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I absolutely loved “Anna Dressed in Blood” it’s really an amazing book so I’m excited to eventually read the sequel.

The Judgement: Keep


Book #157

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Date Added: September 4th, 2015

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I don’t really remember why I ever added this but I’m removing it now.

The Judgement: Go


Book #158

Blood & Salt by Kim Liggett

Date Added: September 24th, 2015

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I’m so torn on this one because I love creepy books but it didn’t get the best reviews and I’m not sure if I really want to bother. I hate being disappointed so I think I’ll just get rid of it.

The Judgement: Go


Book #159

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

Date Added: September 24th, 2015

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I don’t know if this one will disappoint me or not but I really cling to YA horror books on my TBR so I let one go this round and I’m keeping this one. I’m hoping it’s worth it!

The Judgement: Keep

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Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Do you think I should have kept any of these books?

Do you agree with any of my keeps or discards?

Let me know in the comments!

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February TBR

Top Ten Tuesday(20)

I’ve been doing fairly well with monthly TBRs so of course I’m going to keep doing them, they’re good motivation and it’s always fun to let you guys know what I’m planning on reading for the month! I’ve got a few ARCs to get through this month. I also have some potential Buddy Reads in the works so I’ll hopefully be getting through A LOT of books!

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Golden Son by Pierce Brown

I’m finally reading this! Currently! It’s amazing and I have “Morning Star” on hand so I can just jump right into it! This series gives me life!


Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Because I heard the cliffhanger ending in “Golden Son” will destroy me.


The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

I was very fortunate to receive an ARC of this one and I’m excited to continue with this series because I adored “The Bone Witch”!


The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

This was a “Read Now” on Netgalley a little while ago and of course I snagged a copy because this is one of my most anticipated reads for 2018!


Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

I got an ARC of this on Netgalley and I’m very excited to read it, it’s about gladiators and I believe Spartacus too. So it sounds badass!


Giant Days Vol. 1 by John Allison

I love graphic novels, I’m always looking to try new series too and I heard good things about this one. Borrowing from the library!


Locke & Key Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega by Joe Hill

I’m going to finish this series up and I’m super excited because this last volume should be awesome!


Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Search by Gene Yuen Lang

So I actually didn’t know anything about this graphic novel/series until I watched a video by Booktuber Super Space Chick where she mentioned it. Now I am a HUGE fan of the Avatar series and always wondered about Zuko’s mother which this graphic novel answers. I am now obsessed with getting my hands on it!

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Are any of these books on your TBR?

Have you read any of these, what did you think?

What are you planning on reading this month?

Let me know in the comments!

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